At Lobelia’s question, Aina’s face turned white and her hands trembled.
The lemonade spilled from the glass and soaked her white gloves.

“What? Lobelia left the Evelentia mansion?”

“What do you mean by that, Aina?”

The women who were huddled around Elyan and Aina opened their mouths and bombarded them with questions.
Noticing Aina’s distress piqued their interest even more.

Although Aina was always cheerful and friendly, she was not very popular among the women.
They made an effort to be cordial to her, the sole heir of Evelentia, but they did not consider her a friend.
In fact, it was for that reason why Aina was constantly clung to Lobelia, whom she called her ‘sister.’ To compensate for the lack of genuine affection from her peers, Aina developed an unhealthy obsession toward Lobelia.
Lobelia had been vaguely aware of this for a long time, but ignored it, thinking of it as a result of a girl’s loneliness.

Not anymore, though.
Aina’s obsession toward Lobelia had an unpleasant face.
Just as Marlon wanted to control and subjugate Lobelia, Aina wanted to deal with Lobelia as she pleased.

“Uh, that…” Aina stuttered, unable to respond to the questions thrown at her.
Elyan looked at Aina in bewilderment.

Suddenly, Jade made an entrance.
It wasn’t the timing Lobelia had initially planned, but it was the perfect moment, ironically.

“Lobelia,” he said, “Let’s take our seats now.” He stretched out a hand toward her, and the eyes of the onlookers widened in astonishment.

“The one next to Lobelia… Isn’t that Duke Ferrado?” One of the women who had been silent amid the barrage of questions asked in a hushed voice, but it had grown so quiet in the room that everyone could hear her whisper.

Lobelia studied Aina with pure curiosity.
Now that things had gotten to this point, she assumed it was pointless to continue lying.
But it seemed she underestimated Aina, who was more brazen than she thought.

Aina set the half-empty glass of lemonade on the table and announced to the audience, “I lent Lobelia to Duke Ferrado.
He insisted that he needed a handmaiden to attend to him.”

The women next to Aina brought their fans to their mouths to hide their shock.
Everyone in the room knew that her words were a lie to escape the situation—even Aina blushed when she realized that her lie was flimsy.

“But why is Duke Ferrado escorting her?” asked one.

“Lobelia is a commoner, but why is she in the VIP?” said another.

Times have changed, and commoners can now watch operas with their money.
However, there was still a strong perception that VIP seats were reserved exclusively for the nobility.
Besides, there weren’t many commoners who could afford VIP seats.

“Did you really lend her as a maid?”

Aina’s face turned crimson, but she was determined to keep her lie, even though she no no longer sounded credible.
“That’s…” she trailed off, “That’s right! Lobelia is still my handmaiden! Duke Ferrado…”

For the first time, Jade opened his mouth and spoke.
“Miss Lobelia has been sent to attend to me, what do you mean by that?” he asked Aina, raising his eyebrows.

“Y-yes, yes?” Aina stuttered in embarrassment.
She didn’t anticipate Jade would intervene, despite the obviousness of her lie.

“Miss Aina, explain it to me.
I have been formally permitted by your father to date Miss Lobelia,” said Jade, “but why are you saying such things?”

As the words came out of the duke’s mouth, the nobles in the common room began to whisper frantically.

“What did Duke Ferrado just say?”

“The Duke is formally dating who?”

“He’s with that maid?”

“Actually, she’s not a maid.
She’s Count Evelentia’s adopted child who was born out of wedlock.”

“No, that would be more surprising.
Jade Ferrado dating an illegitimate child?”

The corner of Jade’s lips curled into a cold smile while he listened to the endless whispers.
“I don’t care what you say about me,” he said, his voice dangerously low, “but I can’t stand to hear people tarnish Miss Lobelia’s honor.”

The hushed voices ceased at his words and dead silence fell in the room.
There was only one thought in people’s minds right now.

Jade Ferrado… defended a woman?

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